The FA Cup Final takes place this Saturday at Wembley Stadium between four time winners, Manchester City and Stoke City, who will be making a historical first appearance in the final of the Wembley showpiece. The match will mark the 130th season of the FA Cup.
Both teams come into the match following good all round performances in the Premier League, with Manchester City looking a strong bet to finish in the top four thus qualifying for the Champions League next season. Stoke meanwhile, have continued all season in their workmanlike manner and look set to finish in the top half of the table.
To reach the final, Manchester City's FA Cup fixtures saw them knock out their greatest rivals, Manchester United in the semi final, a result which they achieved in reasonably comfortable style, winning 1-0. Stoke however were far more emphatic in their semi final against Bolton Wanderers, turning them over in ruthless fashion by 5-0. In fact Stoke have got to the final conceding only two goals, while the Man City defence have been far more generous, particularly in the early rounds where they needed replays against both Leicester in the third round and Notts County in the fourth. At the third round stage, the FA Cup betting had Man City as a 13/2 chance whilst The Potters were as big as 66/1!
One of the biggest questions being asked by the Eastlands fans this week is will Carlos Tevez be fit for the final. The Argentine has been out with an injured hamstring for the last few weeks and whilst his absence has not necessarily harmed his club’s progress in the League recently, he would be a big plus factor for manager Roberto Mancini to have in his squad.
Stoke who have got by with a relatively small squad when compared to that of their opponents this week, will probably start the match with the same team that started in the stirring 3-1 win over Arsenal last weekend. However, there are some lingering doubts concerning their inspirational centre back, Robert Huth, who went off against Arsenal with a knee injury.
The form of both teams has been good overall, with Stoke in particular delighting manager, Tony Pulis with only two defeats in their last ten games. His players are all proving that they deserve to be in the final line up and have also proved several times this season that they are one of the best teams in the league when it comes to fighting spirit.
Manchester City meanwhile come into the match on the back of a defeat against Everton, their third defeat in their last seven games. After the final City then also face a crucial league game against Spurs this week, which, should they win, will effectively win them the fourth place spot. This of course could in turn take off some of the pressure of Saturday’s final.
The FA Cup Final odds has Man City as favourites to lift the trophy at odds of 2/5 whilst Stoke are a 2/1 chance.
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